image Catholic Culture Update for the week beginning February 16, 2014


Quote to carry in your heart for the week.

“Lead me, guide me.” Psalm 30


February 16th is the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time.  “In the fast lane of today, we are constantly challenged by a prevailing relativism – to make moral decisions on a case-by-case basis, and to put ourselves first, before considering others.  As Christians, we must ask ourselves:  how ‘relative’ – if at all – is God’s kingdom?  Today’s readings help us to answer this question.  Sirach says that “Before each person are life and death, good and evil and whichever one chooses, that shall be given.”  There are no grey zones here, no room for individual interpretation.  There is but one right choice.  The Psalmist asserts, “Blessed are those whose way is blameless…who seek him with their whole heart.”  Our own idea of goodness pales beside the happiness and blessing that well up from the goodness of God.  In the Gospel, we hear Jesus demand that we seek God wholeheartedly.  It is not enough to comply with an intricate menu of rules, hoping for some kind of automatic redemption.  The Gospel of love is uncompromising: anger is akin to murder, lust is as destructive as adultery, and swearing falsely “comes from the evil one.”  During today’s Eucharist let us give thanks for the gift of wisdom, which Paul says is “not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish,” but God’s wisdom born of love and spoken through his son, our redeemer.” Beverly Illauq, February Living with Christ, page 91 Help me Jesus to make good choices that give me deep happiness and peace.  When you have to make a decision today, make the Sign of the Cross and ask the Holy Spirit to help you make the right choice.

February 17th is Family Day.  “Family Day is not a national statutory holiday, it is observed in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan and as of 2013 also in British Columbia. Two other provinces have holidays in February: In PEI Islander Day (new since 2009) is celebrated on the 3rd Monday in February and in Manitoba the 3rd Monday in February is the Louis Riel Day holiday.  Family Day was originally created to give people time to spend with their families but it also provides a day off between New Years Day and Good Friday as they are approximately three months apart.  Common Family Day activities include skating, playing hockey, snowboarding/skiing and going to various winter festivals. But the best thing about of Family Day must be beaver tails and stuffing ourselves silly with pancakes with maple syrup!”  Enjoy some family time today and if your family lives far away, make a phone call.

February 21st is the memorial of St. Peter Damian.  “St. Peter Damian was born in 1007, in Ravenna, Italy.  He was left an orphan as a little child.  An older brother brought Peter to live with him, but he treated him as a servant and sent him to take care of the pigs.  After some time, another brother named Damian, who was a priest, found out how Peter was being treated.  He took over Peter’s care and treated him with love and kindness.  Peter was so grateful to his brother Father Damian that he added the name “Damian” to his own name.  Father Damian educated Peter and encouraged him in his studies.  When Peter grew up, he became a teacher.  He was very good at his work, but God had other plans for him.  Peter Damian lived at a time when many people in the Church were forgetting that we are all called to live like Jesus.  Peter wanted the Church to shine with the holiness of Jesus.  After seven years of teaching, Peter made the decision to become a monk.  He would live the rest of his life in prayer and penance so that many people in the Church would become holy.  In 1035, Peter Damian went to a monastery of St. Romuald.  There he wrote a rule for the monks.  He also wrote a life of St. Romuald.  Twice his abbot sent him to neighbouring monasteries.  Peter helped the monks to change their way of life and become closer to God.  The monks were grateful because Peter was so kind and respectful.  Around 1943, the monks elected Peter abbot.  He continually encouraged his monks to live in imitation of Jesus.”  St. Peter Damian inspire me to live a life of holiness like you inspired the monks.  Spend five minutes being silent like the monks of St. Romuald.

New Catholic Elementary Curriculum Policy Document for Religious Education

Believing ~ Hope Expectations for Junior Classes

By the end of grade 6, it is our hope that students will be individuals who:

  • Reflect on the saving story of our Christian faith and how we are to respond to God’s gift of salvation;
  • Cherish the Hebrew and Christian scriptures as an encounter with God, and Christ Jesus as the living Word of God at the heart of the gospels;
  • Actively seek to find the face of God in Scripture, in God’s creation, particularly in the face of the other;
  • Proclaim with confidence a belief in the mysteries of the Catholic faith, the Creed.


Grade Four BL 1.2:  Define and explain the significance of the Christian beliefs that “God is the author of Sacred Scripture”, Jesus is the “Unique Word of Sacred Scripture” and that the Holy Spirit is the “Interpreter of Sacred Scripture”.

[CCC nos. 74-141]

God is the author of Sacred Scripture – God created all things.  All things were created by God.  So God is the author of Sacred Scripture.  God inspired humans to compose/write down the Sacred Scriptures so God is the original source for all that is written in the Bible.  [105]

Jesus is the “Unique Word of Sacred Scripture.” [This concept may be a bit more challenging to teach]  Jesus always existed with God as Christ before he was born as a human being in Bethlehem.  Christ is the Unique Word of Sacred Scripture.  As it says in beginning of John’s gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.”  In order that we were able to understand God God spoke to us in human words.  And Jesus, the Unique Word, became a human being.  [CCC 101-104]

The Holy Spirit is the “Interpreter of Sacred Scripture.”  In order to understand the Sacred Scripture, the Holy Spirit helps us.  The Holy Spirit gives us understanding by helping us to discover what God wanted to reveal to us by the human writers’ words.  For example, the reader must take into account the conditions of author’s time and culture, the types of literary styles at use at that time and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating current for the author’s.  With the help of the Holy Spirit we can look at the Sacred Scripture with fresh eyes each time.  How many times has it happened that at mass we hear a passage that we have heard many times but we understand something new.  [CCC 109-110]

Grade Five BL 1.3:  Describe how the Church fulfills its mission to spread the “Good News” of Christ to the world (e.g. preaching of the Word, celebration of the sacraments, catechesis and religious education, moral and social justice teaching and the witness of service.) [CCC 748-780] “The word “Church” means a convocation or an assembly.  It designates the assemblies of the people, usually for a religious purpose.” [751]  “The Lord Jesus inaugurated his Church by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Reign of God, promised over the ages in the Scriptures.  To fulfill the Father’s will, Christ ushered in the Kingdom of heaven on earth.  The Church ‘is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery.” [765]  So the Church fulfills its mission to spread the Good News of Christ:  1. by preaching of the Word – In order for the Good News to be continuous heard the Word needs to be preached.  That may mean that the Word is proclaimed at masses or in the words believers share with others or in the beliefs that people hold and give witness to by how they live.

2.  by the celebration of the sacraments – the sacraments are rooted in the Good News.  In participating in these special occasions of grace (God become present) the Good News is expressed by people getting closer to God, especially in the celebration of Eucharist where we experience God’s presence in the people gathered, in the Word proclaimed and in the nourishment that Eucharist gives us.

3.  by catechesis and religious education – Catechesis is directed to believers; it helps them to understand their faith and to articulate it; its context is the believing community as it celebrates the sacred mysteries throughout the liturgical year.  Catechesis takes place in the parish and at home.  Religious education is directed to students; it provides for the right to learn the truth and certainty of the religion to which they belong.  Some students are believers before they come to Catholic schools so religious education assists them to understand better the Christian message.  Students who are seekers may discover what exactly faith in Jesus Christ is, what response the Church makes to their questions and given them the opportunity to examine their own choice more deeply.  In the case of non-believers, religious education assumes the character of a missionary proclamation of the Gospel and may assist students to become believers.  [Curriculum Policy Document for R.E. pages 13-14]

4.  by moral and social justice teaching – The Good News teaches us the commandment of Jesus to love.  This commandment has a moral and social imperative.  We have to search out what is right and what is wrong and do what is right.  We have to live in such a way that others’ lives are not made more challenging because of our choices.  This teaching spreads the Good News of Christ to the world when it is put into practice.  Others ought to be able to meet Jesus simply by watching and listening to how we make decisions and choices.

5.  by the witness to service – We are called as a Church to live the message of Matthew’s gospel in chpt. 25.  When we give good to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, shelter to the homeless, comfort to the sick and lonely, welcome to the stranger, and visit those in prison we do it for Jesus.  So as people see the Church acting in this way to see the Good News in action.  In many non-Christian countries, people have come to believe in the Good News because of the actions of believers.

Grade Six BL 1.3 Identify the many ways we come to know God from the physical world and the human person (i.e. creation).  [CCC 27-49; 166-184]  The desire for God is written in the human heart, because humans are created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw us to Godself.  Only in God will we find the truth and happiness we never stop searching for. [27]   All that God created in the physical world reflects its Creator’s beauty, genius, planning, power and integrity.  Spending time watching the sun rise or set can be one of the most intimate moments of coming to know God.

The human person can also provide for us a way to come to know God.  With our openness to truth and beauty, our sense of moral goodness, our freedom and the voice of our conscience, with our longings for the infinite and for happiness, we can question ourselves about God’s existence. [33]  Sit beside a newborn gently sleeping and it is challenging to not know the presence of God.

 A Teaching from the Catholic Book of Days

“THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS   It was about this time, February or March, in 1947 that a young Bedouin man of the Ta’amirch tribe, one Muhammad adh-Dhib, searching for a lost goat, entered a cave on the west coast of the Dead Sea, south of Jericho, and discovered a set of jars, twenty-five to thirty inches high and ten inches wide, containing strange leather scrolls wrapped in linen.  Were they any good?  Did they mean anything?  The scrolls were shown to a Muslim elder in Jerusalem, who was not particularly impressed, then offered to a dealer in antiquities for twenty pounds.  The dealer turned them down as a poor risk.  His was a poorer business sense.  The scrolls were the first documents known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Five of Muhammad adh-Dhib’s scrolls were subsequently bought by the archbishop of the Syrian Orthodox monastery at Jerusalem, Mar (Lord) Athanasius Samuel, and three by an official at the HebrewUniversity at Jerusalem, Eliezer Sukenik.  It did not take Sukenik long to recognize the great age and importance of the scrolls.  It was urgent, he felt, that the documents be kept together.  That proved a problem, however, for Mar Athanasius fled the Middle East and the blood and turmoil that accompanied creation of the Jewish state of Israel in 1947, taking the scrolls with him.  He turned up in New York, where, anxious to capitalize on the scrolls, he offered them for sale in The Wall Street Journal.  By remarkable coincidence, Sukenik’s son, Yigael Yadin, was in New York at the time and saw the advertisement, and through a wealthy friend, D. Samuel Gottesman, Yadin managed to purchase the scrolls.  The price was $250,000 – steep, but a colossal bargain for something in fact priceless.  The scrolls were returned to Israel, joined to the Sukenik scrolls, and today constitute what Israeli scholar Herbert A. Kenny calls the core of the collection of Hebrew University’s Shrine of the Book – the “book” in this case being not the Torah or the Bible, but the Book of Isaiah…+John Deedy

28 Different Ways to Pray

“As Jesus taught us by His word and example, daily prayer is essential for all Christians.  Our individual prayer life follows the rhythm of our daily life. ……Way #28 Media Prayer

Terrorism, violence, and injustice recall the Gospel challenge to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:43).  The successful rescue mission in which a human life has been saved, act of heroism, or the significant achievement of a person or group who has been recognized as doing well may prompt a prayer of gratitude to God.  While watching television or using the various modes of electronic communication may be seen as a passive activity, how we respond to the information that we receive can prompt us to be more attentive as well as challenge us to act.  We become better informed Christians of the pressing issues of the day, mindful that the Church exists in this modern society.  Media can serve as the catalyst for thought, reflection, and prayer.  The images that we view and the information that we learn call forth a personal response.”  Paulist Press page 141

Equity and Inclusive Education – Leadership for Equitable and Inclusive Schools

Leadership for Equity at the [Board] Level.   In a study of high poverty districts that were improving student achievement, Togneri and Anderson (2003) identified seven common factors that led to improvement:  1. [Boards] had the courage to acknowledge poor performance and the will to seek solutions.  2.  [Boards] put in place a system-wide approach to improving instruction – one that articulated curricular content and provided instructional supports.  3.  [Boards] instilled visions that focused on student learning and guided instructional improvement.  4.  [Boards] made decisions based on data, not instinct.  5.  [Boards] adopted new approaches to professional development that involved a coherent and [Board]-organized set of strategies to improve instruction.  6.  [Boards] redefined leadership roles.  7. [Boards] committed to sustaining reform over the long haul.”  Breaking Barriers:  Excellence and Equity for All, page 146.


Twenty-first Century Education > If you need a laugh, watch this little boy as he hears his favourite book.  1.14 min > See How God’s Faithful Hand is at Work for this Woman Through Tragedies > Inspirational Video – 4.40 min  This awesome testimony will inspire you.  > best kept secret for religious education teachers of every grade > a video to inservice teachers and others involved in education today.  The video tells the stories of LGBTQ students and parents, teachers and others.  It really gives you something to think about.  Please do not show this video in your classroom.  It is intended for use by teachers to hear the stories and to check our bias in relation to this group of students.


130 Fun Facts from God’s Wonder-Filled WORLD! by Bernadette McCarver Snyder

Going to the Dogs 

Did you know that some of the stars in God’s sky have been given names – and one of the stars is named Sirius, the DOG Star?  This star becomes visible in the Northern Hemisphere in mid July and the ancient Greeks thought this star was SO bright it make the weather extra hot!  That’s why people started calling the days of July and August the “dog days of summer”!  Do you like hot summer weather?  If you do, here’s a Dog Days game to play.  Invite some friends over and give each one a blown-up balloon and a spray bottle filled with water.  On the count of three, everybody throws his or her balloon in the air and tries to KEEP it in the air by squirting it with water!  The one who keeps a balloon up in the air the longest wins the God Day prize!  (By the way, it might be good idea to wear swimsuits for this game.)”  page 66


Who says teaching religion can’t be fun?  

CATHOLIC JEOPARDY :  Do forget to give your answer in the form of a question.

The topic is LENT from RTJ’s creative catechist, February/March 2014


To prepare for the next liturgical season let’s test our basic knowledge of Lent.

1.  The day Lent starts.

2.  The number of days in Lent.

3.  The meaning of Laetare in Laetare Sunday.

4.  The two solemnities we celebrate during Lent.

5.  The days included in the Holy Triduum.


Weird Facts – how many people will read this far down the email…?  Are you one who will?

“A brigantine is a sailing ship. ”   Huh!

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